Robinson Crusoe Study Guide

Robinson Crusoe By Daniel Defoe

Crusoe's parents want him to assume a career in law, but he insists on being a sailor. Nearly every ship he sets foot in is shipwrecked or taken by pirates, but he insists on sailing regardless. Eventually, he ends up in Brazil, where he becomes the owner of a sizable plantation before setting off to sea again to obtain slaves from Africa. Once again, he is shipwrecked, this time on a small island about forty miles out to sea near the mouth of the Orinoco River.

He is the only survivor, but he is a survivor. He makes his own habitation, food, pottery, and tools; he reads the Bible regularly and thanks God that the only thing missing in his life is other people. He lives this simple but effective life for years before he stumbles upon the fact that there is a group of cannibals who bring their prisoners to this island to kill and eat them.

On one of these visits, one of their prisoners manages to escape, and joins up with Crusoe, who names him "Friday" - the day of the week that he appeared on. Crusoe teaches him English and then Christianity, both of which Friday takes to rather well. The next time the cannibals come, Friday and Crusoe kill most of them and free two of their prisoners: a Spaniard, and Friday's father. The Spaniard informs Crusoe that there are more Spaniards shipwrecked on the mainland, and takes Friday's father, planning to head back to the mainland, get the others, and build a ship with which to return to Spain.

While the two are on the mainland, an English ship appears which has been taken over by mutineers. The rightful captain is dropped off to die, but Crusoe rescues him and strikes a deal wherein he will help the Captain and the loyalist sailors take the ship back. They succeed, and Crusoe returns to England to learn that his family considers him dead and he has been disinherited.

He soon learns that his estate in Brazil has done quite well, however, and transports his wealth from Brazil to England (his only successful ship journey ever), where he and Friday have one last adventure fighting off hundreds of ravenous wolves before settling down and living the good life.

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